The folks at HPSO talked Loree into opening her garden to a small group and sharing her tips and tricks for growing succulents. I have long admired this garden and gardener online, so I jumped at the chance to meet them both in 3D. I kicked myself for failing to bring my camera (it was hiding out, having learned something from those devious car keys), but I needn’t have worried. Loree does a much better job of chronicling than I ever could here. She almost apologetically admitted that all of her expertise comes from personal experience rather than study. As far as I am concerned, that is the very best kind of knowledge. Plus, I happen to know that she gobbles up every book on the subject before experimenting freely on the hundreds of plants in her collection.
As if soaking up this fabulous garden and pelting Loree with questions were not enough, she used her considerable pull in the local plant community to procure donated plants. There were just enough to go around. I fell somewhere in the middle of the ingenious drawing system for choosing. The big, showy numbers had already been snapped up, but I had had my eye on this little guy right from the start. I never met a Euphorbia I didn’t like. E. mamilaris ‘varigata’ stands 4.5″ tall and is a perfect fit for one of three little metal containers I found in a thrift shop. Doesn’t he look like he is holding up his paws and shouting “Pick me! Pick me!”?
Planting him up gave me a chance to put new information into practice. We had been warned that most succulents will be planted too deeply. Sure enough, you can see the dark line where the soil level reached in the nursery pot. I can see why they do it that way, because he wanted to flop over when the soil covered only his shallow root system. Aha! Here is where the recommended layer of gravel top-dressing came in. Not only is it attractive, but it holds the plant upright without retaining moisture. I applied this same technique to an Agave pup that had been struggling.
Since she knew of the death, last year, of my prickly pear, Loree had saved a paddle from one of hers for me. I am taking no chances with this one, so more potting practice, using 70% potting soil to 30% chicken grit and once again topping off with gravel. I noticed that the Danger Garden employs many cachepots with no drainage holes, so the watering of this plant, similarly housed, will need to be even sparser than usual (I am sure that Loree will correct me in the comments if I am wrong about that). Update: I was right: see comments for the straight scoop.
All in all, this was a perfect way to spend a beautiful, sunny morning. Thanks, HPSO, for convincing Loree to step outside of her comfort zone and try something she wasn’t sure she would be good at. Hah! Loree…I think you might just be finding yourself in demand. You were great!